Putin's Farmer – Stefan Dürr and his Russian Empire
Stefan Dürr from Germany is one of Russia’s most important agro-businesspeople. Dürr produces in six locations, deep in Siberia. His products include milk and grains, seeds and meat; he also sells agricultural machinery. With more than 100,000 tons of milk per year, he’s one of Russia’s four biggest milk producers.
Stefan Dürr has his own empire in Russia. He owns at least 200,000 hectares of land and has 60,000 cows and 4,000 employees. Two years ago Vladimir Putin personally handed him the certificate of Russian citizenship. Russia wants to become independent of European Union imports and Dürr’s milk empire benefits from this policy. That’s because he also receives some of the state subsidies that are being invested in building up Russia’s agriculture. Wherever Dürr shows up, be it at the Agrofarm agricultural trade show in Moscow, or at the regional ministries of Kaluga and Voronezh, people listen to him and rely on him. We meet a man who waxes lyrical about how much he has been able to grow in Russia, how he has been able to buy land and develop as an entrepreneur and also get involved in politics. Dürr is an ice hockey fan: ‘Germany,’ he says, ‘is like football: very thought through, following strict rules. Fouls are punished, dives could be worth it. In Russia it’s like ice hockey: faster, more spontaneous, tougher - and yet still following fair rules.’ It’s a game that Dürr seems to have a talent for.